Rescued Randolph dogs get much-needed care

David Riley

Forty-four of about 90 dogs and puppies rescued from a squalid Randolph house last week are now in Framingham and Ashland, receiving much-needed care from animal control officers.

The pooches, some caked in filth when they were first discovered, got free baths and grooming Monday at the Framingham Animal Control facility on Western Avenue, courtesy of about 10 Petco employees.

"They were in very sad, filthy condition - incredibly matted,'' said Katherine MacKenzie, Framingham's animal control director. "They look beautiful now.''

MacKenzie and Cheryl Rudolph, animal control officer for both Ashland and Holliston, agreed to provide the dogs temporary homes to aid the Animal Rescue League of Boston and the state Department of Agricultural Resources.

The two organizations worked with local police last Thursday to remove the animals from what officials are calling an illegal kennel.

The rescue group sought a search warrant to enter the home after a worried neighbor contacted Randolph police, said league spokesman Christopher Smalley. During Thursday's raid, authorities found nearly double the number of dogs they expected, some running loose and others kept in cages.

"From 10, 15, 20 feet away, the stench, the odor emanating from the house was unbearable,'' Smalley said.

Afterward, the Randolph Board of Health condemned the unoccupied home, which was leased by Linda Snow, owner of Missy's Puppy Land in Stoughton, according to news reports. Authorities are investigating.

The influx of animals was a lot for the rescue league's three facilities in Boston, Dedham and Brewster to handle, Smalley said.

"(It) was just an incredible burden on the system,'' he said. "We're managing it and using our friends in the animal control field to help.''

Rudolph said Ashland has worked with the league in the past and got a call asking to shelter some of the dogs. "They help us, we help them,'' she said.

Ashland took on 26 puppies and six of their mothers, Rudolph said. Framingham is caring for about a dozen adult dogs, MacKenzie said.

The canines arrived in Ashland Thursday night in "nasty, nasty, nasty'' condition, with feces and urine in their matted fur, Rudolph said.

"This is the worst I've ever seen,'' said Rudolph, who has been in her line of work more than eight years. "You go home and you tear your clothes off and you just don't even want to touch anything.''

The Department of Agricultural Resources asked Framingham to take on its share, which ranges from chows to poodles, MacKenzie said.

"The sheer volume in this case was just overwhelming,'' she said. "The sad, neglected condition these dogs were in - it's just heartbreaking to see these dogs living like this.''

The rescue league provided veterinary care for the dogs, both animal control officers said.

The dogs may be settling in for a short while - they are not yet up for adoption because they are still considered evidence in the investigation, Smalley said. Some may move to foster homes, but that discussion is still in the works, he said.

Framingham's facility can handle 20 dogs, which is manageable, MacKenzie said. In Ashland, the increase is difficult, Rudolph said.

"It does put a strain on us, but we have volunteers coming in and giving us a hand,'' Rudolph said. "Animal Rescue League is coming in and giving us a hand. It's been a very collaborative effort, plus my staff is just awesome.''

Smalley said an outpouring of donations from the public has been moving. Still, more help is needed to care for the animals.

Petco is seeking old blankets and towels, diet food for adult dogs and puppies, toys and cleanup supplies to aid the effort. The retail chain's charity arm, the Petco Foundation, is handling donations.

"We also have donated collars to help identify these dogs, as well as puppy milk to get some of these younger dogs up and running,'' said April Botta, northeast regional marketing coordinator. "We're looking to continue supporting the effort.

Donated items can be dropped off at area Petco stores. Monetary donations can be made to the Animal Rescue League of Boston's Randolph Puppy Rescue Fund online at www.arlboston.org.

MetroWest Daily News